Tumour necrosis factor, but not interferon-gamma, is essential for acquired resistance to Listeria monocytogenes during a secondary infection in mice

Immunology. 1995 Oct;86(2):256-62.


Mice with a secondary Listeria monocytogenes infection eliminate the bacteria much faster and more efficiently from their organs than mice with a primary infection. During the course of a secondary infection, serum concentrations of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF) are higher than during a primary infection. The aim of the present study was to determine whether these cytokines are involved in the acquired resistance to L. monocytogenes during a secondary infection in mice. In order to neutralize cytokines, alginate-encapsulated cells, which form anti-cytokine monoclonal antibodies, were injected into the nuchal region of mice during a Listeria infection. Mice recovered from a sublethal primary Listeria infection, which acquired cell-mediated immunity, received a subcutaneous injection of anti-IFN-gamma-forming cells, or anti-TNF-forming cells, and 4 days later received an intravenous injection with 10 50% lethal dose (LD50) L. monocytogenes. The number of bacteria recovered from the liver and spleen of immune mice treated with anti-IFN-gamma-forming cells was slightly larger (approximately 1 log10) than that found for immune mice treated with anti-beta-galactosidase-forming cells, called immune control mice. The organs of immune mice treated with anti-TNF-forming cells yielded significantly more (approximately 4 log10) bacteria than those of immune control mice, more than those of immune mice treated with anti-IFN-gamma-forming cells, and comparable numbers to those of non-immune mice. Taken together, these results demonstrate that TNF is essential in acquired resistance to L. monocytogenes during a secondary infection in mice, while IFN-gamma plays a minor role.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal / immunology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Immunity, Cellular
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Immunologic Memory / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology*
  • Listeria monocytogenes / growth & development
  • Listeriosis / immunology*
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Macrophage Activation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Spleen / microbiology
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Interferon-gamma